Chocolate Cream Cheese Stuffed Monkey Bread. Biscuits and Gravy Bake. Pesto asparagus and sun-dried tomato pasta. Go ahead, take a second to pause and stop drooling before continuing on. It’s a fact: we’re helplessly addicted to Tasty videos.
Maybe it’s because as college students, we justify our obsession by convincing ourselves that watching another video will make us the next Gordon Ramsey in our dorm room. Or maybe we’re trying to get some inspiration for our next Trader Joe’s run. Or maybe you’re just really bored reading this blog post that you need a break. Regardless, Tasty videos are an epidemic, and for good reason.
The Rise to Visual Dominance
Tasty, a Buzzfeed subsidiary, has built an empire off of quick recipe tutorial video clips. The key to the video is the overhead angle coupled with a pair of hands gracefully preparing the food, as if performing some sort of dance. Ashley McCollum, Tasty GM, explained that this angle is key:
“It’s your hands; it feels like you’re cooking it. It’s a totally different point of view than we’ve seen in the rest of the food-media space. The psychology is a really interesting question. When you are holding your phone and looking [at] it and it feels like it’s your hands, that is a big factor in why you feel connected to the media. We didn’t invent the top-down format, but the combination of that plus the way we think about media—which is social—and then plus food has created this amazing combination.”
Tasty is just a little over 2 years old, yet makes some of the most popular digital media. “Sliders 4 Ways” is one of its most popular videos, with over 3.1 million views.
And while these videos might just look like a fun hobby, they’re highly profitable. Rather than relying on other platforms like Facebook or Instagram to distribute and tailor advertisements for them, Tasty can create the ad content themselves. By partnering with brands, they can create sponsored content that looks just like any other recipe video that they would release. Newell Brands made a sponsored Tasty video for a jalapeno and cheese-stuffed burger cooked on an Oster grill. The video caused the grill to immediately sell out on both Amazon and Target after it was shared more than 1 million times. This seamless integration of the food and beverage industry is key and is just one of the many reasons why Tasty is so successful.
The Key to Dominating Digital Content
The primary driver behind Tasty’s success today is the control of the “content pipe.” The goal for most brands on social media is to try to drive traffic to their own website. Facebook is just a means of acquiring the customer, but the end goal is peaking the customer’s interest enough to direct them away from Facebook. Tasty does the opposite. Its content is purposely made to stay inside of Facebook. By leveraging its autoplay functionality, speeding up the video, and not requiring sound in the video, they immediately reel the viewer in. With only a second to grab a user while they scroll through their feed, every detail of the initial seconds of the video counts.
This strategy makes sense. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes content that keeps users on the site, rather than going to another site. Other sites like Instagram and Snapchat won’t even allow a brand to post links to outside sites, meaning that creation within the platform is the only option (the exception for Instagram is if the account is a business account.) Facebook also favors video posts over text or photo posts, which helps elevate Tasty’s view count. These videos work, and it’s only the beginning of Tasty’s plans.
Becoming the “Disney of Digital”
Tasty also has plans for expansion. The goal is to be the Disney of digital content: not only will they create recipe videos, but they want to leverage their brand to build the content, videos, and experiences for a society that is fixated on their phones. McCollum describes this age of new digital media as becoming a lifestyle brand: “It’s the same model as old-media networks — you make a movie that people love, and then you build a theme park and extend that to products and everything else.”
So far, Tasty has expanded to offer both a cooktop and a cookbook. The “Tasty One Top” is an app-connected device that retails at $149. The device can perform many cooking tasks such as searing or simmering. It’s meant to be used with the cookbook, which sold 100,000 copies in just the first few weeks. The cooktop and book prove that Tasty is more than just a popular Facebook page: it’s an empire showing that the future of digital is social media content. With over 40 billion views in just a little over two years, they’ve shown that content is king and people REALLY love to watch videos of a cheese-pull. There’s no telling what they’ll debut next, but I can guarantee that people won’t stop watching food videos for a while.